Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 554–566 | Cite as

Fluid Dynamics in Rotary Piston Blood Pumps

  • Johannes Wappenschmidt
  • Simon J. Sonntag
  • Martin Buesen
  • Sascha Gross-Hardt
  • Tim Kaufmann
  • Thomas Schmitz-Rode
  • Ruediger Autschbach
  • Andreas Goetzenich


Mechanical circulatory support can maintain a sufficient blood circulation if the native heart is failing. The first implantable devices were displacement pumps with membranes. They were able to provide a sufficient blood flow, yet, were limited because of size and low durability. Rotary pumps have resolved these technical drawbacks, enabled a growing number of mechanical circulatory support therapy and a safer application. However, clinical complications like gastrointestinal bleeding, aortic insufficiency, thromboembolic complications, and impaired renal function are observed with their application. This is traced back to their working principle with attenuated or non-pulsatile flow and high shear stress. Rotary piston pumps potentially merge the benefits of available pump types and seem to avoid their complications. However, a profound assessment and their development requires the knowledge of the flow characteristics. This study aimed at their investigation. A functional model was manufactured and investigated with particle image velocimetry. Furthermore, a fluid–structure interaction computational simulation was established to extend the laboratory capabilities. The numerical results precisely converged with the laboratory measurements. Thus, the in silico model enabled the investigation of relevant areas like gap flows that were hardly feasible with laboratory means. Moreover, an economic method for the investigation of design variations was established.


Rotary blood pump Mechanical circulatory support Wankel engine Immersed boundary method Particle image velocimetry SCARABAEUS 



This research project is supported by the START-Program of the Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University.

Conflict of interest

Some of the authors have a patent pending for seal-less rotary piston drives (DE 10 2014 010 745).


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Applied Medical EngineeringHelmholtz-Institute RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular SurgeryRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany

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